Local Tastes and Recipes

Local products:

Fava Santorini, a yellow split pea which is a specialty of the island.

What makes the Santorini fava the best among the varieties cultivated in other parts of Greece and the Mediterranean region in general, is the volcanic terrain of the island, it’s the most arid in Greece, are extremely harsh. The very little amount of humidity in the   ground means that the few vegetables growing have a very intense taste.

The Santorini fava is characterized by its dark yellow color and its taste reminding dried fruits. It takes more time to cook and housewives of the island let it simmer for many hours in order to achieve a dish of creamy texture.

This simple food is a basic raw diet material for the island and the corner stone of the local cuisine. It is found in dozens of different plates like the common mashed split peas, in balls and soups. The leftover fava can be mixed with other ingredients like cooked onions or cooked dry capers and in these case the local people call it “Fava pandremeni” (wedded). One of the tastiest dishes is fava accompanied by cooked eggplant on top.

Santorini Cherry Tomatoes

The folklore scientist from Santorini I. Kyriakos in 1875 mentions the Santorini tomato as 'chrysomilo' (golden apple). The cultivated variety is anhydrous with small fruit and bushy. The size of the tomato sometimes can reach the size of a cherry! Its bark is hard and has a unique flavor. As it is obvious the flavor of the tomato paste produced by the Santorini tomato is unique also.The tomato production was a big enterprise in Santorini before tourism changed the landscape. In a region with such a dry climate, only one unique variety could grow.

Until the ‘50s, the cultivation and canning of the tomatoes played the most basic role in the Santorini economy.

One of the dishes bearing the signature of the island is the “pseftokeftedes” (fake meat-balls). These are fried balls prepared with tomatoes, herbs and batter.

White Eggplant

Another unique vegetable of Santorini is the small, white eggplant which arrived to the island from Egypt together with the rich families who dominated the practically feudal economic life of santorini during the beginning of the previous century. These are beautiful, rather small eggplants with very rich taste and mild flesh.


Caper can be considered the “national” dish of the Cyclades, mainly of Santorini, Sifnos, Tinos, Andros and Syros. Indeed, the Cycladic islands with their arid terrain and the legendary strong winds seem to be the most suitable part of Greece where caper thrives.

Caper is collected in may end June. The finest one is smallest in size. After it is collected, it is either put in brine where it should stay three weeks to one month before it is ready for conception, or, in rarer cases, it is simply salted. The lives of the caper are also highly esteemed, particularly in salads as well as in the preparation of pickles.

Dried Caper 

This is specialty of Santorini and Tinos and by all means one of the most unusual dietary products of the Greek pantry. It is the big sprouts which are sun-dried. During spring and the beginning of summer, one can see these spouts which look like small, grey-yellowish balls, drying in trays in the sun, on the roofs and terraces of the island. The biggest spouts are cut in two and the sun-dried caper is the base for one of the most authentic dishes of Santorini: the two pieces are put together, they are cooked with tomato and onions and served on top of fava. The  most famous dish of santorini.

Local sweets:


This is a specialty of santorini and the nearby islands. It is prepared with blanched almonds boiled in syrup from local honey. This is the traditional sweet for weddings. Indeed, even before tasting it, its appearance makes us feel we are about to experience a delight of the palate.

Melitinia from Santorini

These are Easter sweet cheese-pies which fresh, unsalted myzithra (ricotta). This cheese is prepared only during the Easter season. In the filling various herbs are used. Some cooks add mastic, others cinnamon, orange and vanilla, or a mixture of those. Since these are festive sweets, their shape is special, resembling small tarts; the may even look like a star, in the center of which the filling is added.

Recipes of Santorini and other Cycladic islands

Tomatokeftedes or Pseftokeftedes (tomato pancakes)

Serves 4-6

    1 ½ cups tomatoes, finely chopped (dehydrated  Cycladic tomatoes, if available)
    ½ cup spring onions, finely chopped
    1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
    2 tablespoon fresh spearmint, finely chopped
    a pinch of dried crumbled oregano
    1 cup plain flour or a little bit more (depending on how juicy the tomatoes are)
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    salt, pepper to taste
    olive oil for frying


Combine in a bowl, tomatoes, onion and herbs.
Mix the flour with the baking powder. Add in the bowl, a little a time and stir constantly until everything combines to a mixture, firm enough to form little balls (pseftokeftedes).
Heat enough olive oil in a frying pan and deep-fry the pseftokeftedes, until golden.
Remove them from the pan and place them on kitchen paper to absorb the extra olive oil.

Note: There are many variations of this dish. Every cook, depending on his/her taste, adds different spices in the mixture or pseftokeftedes

Fava Pantremeni (split pea puree)

Serves 4

    ½ cup olive oil
    1 onion, coarsely chopped
    1-cup split peas, cleaned, washed
    water for boiling the splits peas
    2-3 tablespoons vinegar
    salt, pepper to taste

For the sauce:

    ½ cup olive oil
    3-4 tomatoes, peeled, finely chopped (small dehydrated Cycladic tomatoes if available)
    2 large onions, finely chopped
    pinch of cinnamon
    1 bay leaf


Boil the split peas.
Heat, on a pot, half of the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent.
Add the split peas, stir with a wooden spoon, for 1-2 minutes, add water, enough to cover the split peas, by approx. 2 cm.
Boil, for 1-1 ½ hours, over low heat until a smooth puree.
Stir occasionally. Add a little warm water if needed.
Remove from the fire and add the remaining olive oil and vinegar.
Cover the pot with a linen towel and let it stand for about 30 minutes.
Prepare the sauce.
Heat the olive oil, over low heat, and add the onion until soft and translucent.
Cook for about 10 minutes. Add, tomatoes, cinnamon, bay leaf salt and paper.
Cover the frying pan and boil the sauce for 20-50 minutes, over low fire until the sauce thickens.
Serve and pour the sauce on top.

Note: pantremeni (married in Greek) refers poetically to the matching of split-pea puree with tomato sauce and occasionally with capers.

The famous Santorini split peas are of the variety called “chingling vetch”, which is very close to yellow split peas.    

Good luck!!

Some more recipes coming soon...